1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Must haves classic textbooks?

  1. Mar 3, 2007 #1
    "must haves" classic textbooks?

    So, what are the must have books for a physics person?... I mean what would be the PERFECT collection of classic physics textbooks? If you can chose a set of physics books on your bookshelf, what would the ones that you absolutely need to have?

    I know that Goldstein's classical mechanics is a must...

    so, let's name a couple others on some other fields, such as astrophysics, fluid dynamics, relativity... you name it.

    edit: so let me compile a list:

    Introductory Physics:
    The Feynman Lectures on Physics (Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton, and Matthew Sands)

    Thermal Physics:
    An Introduction to Thermal Physics (by by Daniel V. Schroeder)

    Classical Mechanics:
    Classical Mechanics (by Herbert Goldstein, Charles P. Poole, John L. Safko)

    Fluid Mechanics
    Fluid Mechanics (by L.D. Landau , E.M. Lifschitz)

    Introduction to Electrodynamics (by David J. Griffiths)

    Special Relativity:
    Spacetime Physics (by Edwin F. Taylor, John Archibald Wheeler)

    Quantum Mechanics:
    Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (by David J. Griffiths)
    Modern Quantum Mechanics (by J. J. Sakurai)

    Solid State Physics:
    Introduction to Solid State Physics (by Charles Kittel)

    so, anything about fluid dynamics, astrophysics, cosmology, general relativity, statistical physics?
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2007 #2
    Classical Electrodynamics, of course.
  4. Mar 3, 2007 #3
    I'd say that Griffiths' textbooks on electromagnetic theory and quantum mechanics are "must haves." It's Griffiths, after all.
  5. Mar 3, 2007 #4
    halliday-resnik-walker...n h c verma if ur staying in india
  6. Mar 3, 2007 #5
    A few more are:

    Sakurai (modern, not advanded)
    Kittel (solid state, thermal physics)
    Feynman lectures
    Peskin & schroeder
    MTW, gravitation
    Weinberg, the quantum theory of fields
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2007
  7. Mar 3, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Taylor/Wheeler - Spacetime Physics (1966)
  8. Mar 3, 2007 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    i have something else to advise.
    do not take kleppner's book for the exercises in them, cause the excercises that seems to be most intersting have errors in them.
    although the text explains matters in an intersting and rigourous way (as rigorous as a physicist can be about maths (-:).
    now in this semester i take a course in QM and SR, si im planning to use the last chapters of this book in hope that no errors will be found, and i also plan to use rindler's intro to SR.
    dont know if it's a classic but it looks good enough to be an intro to SR.
  9. Mar 3, 2007 #8
    IIRC, Kleppner uses the complex time component when dealing with four-vectors.
  10. Mar 3, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    What kind of errors? Can you provide examples?
    Merely typographical or ill-posed?
    If typographical, it might be worth it to compile a list... or add to http://d0lbln.lbl.gov/h7af98/h7af98-kktypos.pdf .

    K+K's exercises are certainly more challenging than those found in your standard intro textbook. In spite of possible typographical problems, it's still worth it to do the problems. A while back I had started a personal project to do and write up detailed solutions to all of the problems in K+K... but I only got as far as all of chapter 1 until other things got me busy. Someday, I'll get back to it.

    For SR, Taylor-Wheeler's Spacetime Physics (1966) is the best introduction.
  11. Mar 3, 2007 #10

    Dr Transport

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There are better out there than Griffiths...

    Wangsness for E&M and McGervery or even Liboff for QM.
  12. Mar 3, 2007 #11
    Ive never been a big fan of Feynmans intro lectures as yes they are intro topics, you really need a good background in them for his lectures...
  13. Mar 3, 2007 #12


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Fluid Mechanics by Landau et al.
  14. Mar 3, 2007 #13
    My list

    Introductory physics (non-honors: classical mechanics, electromagnetism):
    Halliday and Resnik, Physics
    Serway, Physics for Scientists and Engineers
    Young and Freedman, University Physics

    Introductory classical mechanics (honors):
    Kleppner and Kolenkow, Introduction to Mechanics

    Introductory electromagnetism (honors):
    Purcell, Electricity and Magnetism

    Special relativity:
    French, Special Relativity

    Introductory physics (honors: classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics):
    Feynman, Lectures on Physics

    Apostol, Calculus (volumes 1 and 2)
    Arfken and Weber, Mathematical Methods for Physicists
    Abramowitz and Stegun, Handbook of Mathematical Functions

    Second course in mechanics:
    Marion and Thornton, Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems

    Second course in electromagnetism:
    Griffiths, Introduction to Electrodynamics

    Hecht, Optics
    Goodman, Introduction to Fourier Optics

    First course in quantum mechanics:
    Griffiths, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

    First course in statistical and thermal physics:
    Kittel and Kroemer, Thermal Physics
    Reif, Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics

    Solid state physics:
    Kittel, Introduction to Solid State Physics
    Ashcroft and Mermin, Solid State Physics

    Graduate course in classical mechanics:
    Goldstein, Classical Mechanics

    Graduate course in classical electrodynamics:
    Jackson, Classical Electrodynamics

    Graduate course in quantum mechanics:
    Sakurai, Modern Quantum Mechanics
    Merzbacher, Quantum Mechanics

    Graduate course in optics:
    Born and Wolf, Principles of Optics

    Graduate physics:
    Landau and Lifsh*tz

    Quantum field theory:
    Peskin and Schroeder
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2007
  15. Mar 3, 2007 #14
    I cant believe no one has mentioned the "Boas book" (Mathematical methods in the physical sciences) for mathematics. Greatest book...ever. It is the true bible.
  16. Mar 4, 2007 #15
    Am I the only one who hates that damn E&M Griffiths book?
  17. Mar 4, 2007 #16
    You've missed some of the more important texts.

    Classical Mechanics
    Personally i think Goldstein is weak, it has some good problems but theory wise it is rather weak. I prefer either Landau for its brilliant and concise summary or Arnold for understanding.

    Quantum Mechanics
    Griffiths books are barely a introduction to the subjects, try Shankar as the bare minimum.
  18. Mar 4, 2007 #17


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    you can search on my posts in the introductory physics section in the homework section.
    most of my questions were from kleppner's book, and so far two or more questions from this book were replied as something is wrong in the questions type of answers.
    ofcourse perahps the posters didnt solved it correctly.
  19. Mar 4, 2007 #18
    hmm... can't edit my original post anymore... I was thinking about adding more to the list... oh well.
  20. Mar 4, 2007 #19

    Dr Transport

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    No you are not.....I had to teach out of it once, swore I'd never do that again.
  21. Mar 4, 2007 #20
    which book is best suited for one who knows classical mechanics well enough for resnick halliday, and wishes to know more of applications and challenging problems ?
  22. Mar 4, 2007 #21

    Dr Transport

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Any engineering statics and dynamics book will be what you want for applications. It will probably be short on Lagrangian and Hamiltonian techniques, but nail every bridge, truss etc....
  23. Mar 5, 2007 #22
    I wouldnt want something that has such intense maths as that...will be better if it is restricted to calculus. I want something like Problems in General Physics by Irodov- but something that offers supplementary explanation as well
  24. Mar 5, 2007 #23
    Cohen Tannoudji Books in Quantum Mechanics
    All the Theoretical Physics books of Landau and Lifchits ( classical mechanis, field theory, quantum mechanics, electrodynamics of continuous media, statistical physics , quantum field theory ...)
    All the Theoretical Physics books of Greiner
  25. Mar 6, 2007 #24
    Maybe, if you want an ebook, you can try this :

    It has some cool problems, and also an introductory chapter on Lagrangians, plus chapters of relativity.
  26. Mar 10, 2007 #25
    I have Boas' Mathematical Methods book, to be honest I thought it was needlessly large, taking ages to read when I have an excellent calculus textbook that a substantial portion of the same topics in far less pages.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook